Idaho’s Rural-to-Urban Population Shift Continued in 2020


For Immediate Release:  June 11, 2021
Media Contact: Kathryn Tacke, (208) 799-5000 ext. 3984 or Craig Shaul, (208) 332-3570 ext. 3201

Idaho’s urban areas continue to see significant population growth according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s recently released city population estimates for 2020.  

The Gem State had the fastest growing population in the nation up 2.1% — between 2019 and 2020, with much of the growth occurring in Idaho’s urban areas. Nationwide, there are 3,093 cities with populations larger than 10,000. When those cities are ranked based on their percentage growth between 2019 and 2020, eight of the top 200 fastest-growing cities are in Idaho Kuna (43), Post Falls (46), Star (55), Eagle (65), Meridian (70), Nampa (151) Ammon (167) and Caldwell (171) all with growth rates ranging from 7.5% to 3.5%.

About 70.5% of Idaho’s residents lived in cities in 2020 compared to 61.2% in 1980.

In 2020, eight Idaho cities had populations greater than 50,000. In 2000, only four Idaho cities had more than 50,000 residents. In 1980, only Boise’s population exceeded the 50,000 threshold and in 1960, no Idaho city had more than 35,000 residents. 

The total number of people living in Idaho’s 200 incorporated cities grew 2.4% between 2019 and 2020, faster than the state’s 2.1%. Idaho’s cities continue to be magnets drawing population from outside the state and from Idaho’s rural areas. 

Idaho’s s eight cities with populations of more than 50,000 grew 2.3% between 2019 and 2020, while Idaho’s 177 smallest cities (with populations below 10,000) grew slower at 1.7%. The 15 medium-sized cities grew fastest — 2.9%.

Blackfoot (-0.1%) and Garden City (-0.5%) were the only medium-sized cities to experience population loss between 2019 and 2020. Thirty-two of the state’s smaller cities saw declines, but none with population losses greater than 1.4%.

Nampa passed a milestone in 2020 when its population rose from 99,502 to 103,215, joining Boise and Meridian in the 100,000-up club.

Among the Idaho cities and its six neighboring states, Boise is the seventh largest with 229,776 residents. The largest is Seattle (769,714), followed by Portland (656,751), Las Vegas (662,368), Henderson (329,172), Reno (259,290) and North Las Vegas (259,290). Rounding out the top 10 are Spokane (222,050), Tacoma (219,945) and Salt Lake City (204,087).

Results from the 2020 Decennial Census will be released in September.

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